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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Snow report, April 27, 2013--N. Fork Cascade River

It's been too long since I've done a snow report, so here it is.  Based on  my ski experience this winter, and especially my last trip to the S. Fork Stillaguamish valley on March 22, I thought this was a great snow year because the Big Four picnic area was still under about a meter of snow.  At that time, I shared my thoughts with Mauri Pelto, who was quick to point out the SnoTel data from Lyman Lake was rather average, with a snow water equivalent of about 55 inches.
I decided to travel farther afield this time, to see how the snowpack looks in the N. Fork Cascade River and to enjoy some avalanches.
I was disappointed to find that the snowpack less than average, with only patchy snow and mostly bare road all the way to Midas Creek.  Only just below the Boston Basin trailhead does the snow get consistently over a half-meter.  It is evident that the S. Fork Stilly received way more snow at low elevations than did the Cascade River system.  This is something of a mystery, considering the peaks that surround the Cascade are basically 2,000 to 3,000 feet higher than those above the Stilly.  I attribute it to the orientation of the valley, and its proximity to the ocean--the Stilly resides in the Puget Sound convergence zone, with no other mountains to intercept the moisture.  The Cascade is "downstream" from the Stilly and thus doesn't receive as much moisture.

As you can see, the upper reaches of the North Cascades appear to have a healthy snowpack, but in reality it is appearing to be an average year, despite a cool Spring (The National Weather Service noted that the streak of days in Seattle below 70 F ended this past week at 197 days--the longest streak is 228 days from Sept 29th to May 13th, 2000).

Still, the skiing was just great, with the warm temps softening the snow perfectly such that I was whooshing along until well after sunset.  I should note that I was alone up there--the ski tracks you see were made by me.  A party of three was up on Eldorado, and a party of four skiers was in Boston Basin, but I had the valley to myself.  Oh darn!

Only a handful of respectable avalanches, certainly no big ones despite three days of 70 degree weather and snow level above 9,000 feet.  The weather turned, but not until I was drivinig home--yay!  Needless to say, I'll be back up next weekend if the weather is good...

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